The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) needs “a cleansing and a purge” to rid itself of the old boys’ club who have kept it back, a member of the old guard has said.
In a frank assessment of the state of the party, former Minister of Social Transformation Hamilton Hammie La Lashley charged that too many of the old guard were determined to hang on despite the embarrassing loss in last Thursday’s general election.
“I know I am going to get cursed for it but I am accustomed to it. The party needs a cleansing and a purge,” Lashley told journalists at a news conference at the Marcus Garvey Resource Centre in The Pine, St Michael.
The social activist, who held the St Michael South East seat for both the DLP and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) between 1994 and 2013, said the time had come for a complete overhaul of the party, along with a change in thinking from “the old traditional way of doing things”.
He called on those who hold positions of power in the DLP to put country before party and step aside, even as he expressed scepticism that they would willingly relinquish control.
“There would be a number of the older members who have already resigned their official position and it gives us a pathway forward into the future. However, you would meet up on the old heads who believe that they have a God-given right to make the final decision,” he said.
“It is quite obvious to me that a number of the old boys and girls have to sit back in an advisory capacity and let younger, brighter persons take the lead. The Democratic Labour Party has to be very serious. It can’t be the old boys club anymore. We need a new dynamic force going forward in the future,” he stressed.
Joining Lashley at the news conference was his protégé Rodney Grant, the losing DLP candidate in St Michael South East.
Grant suggested that his party had lost its soul, claiming it had moved away from the principles established by its founding father, Errol Barrow.
Grant was seen as one of the DLP’s brightest prospects after he was hand-picked by the hierarchy to contest the seat which the BLP’s Santia Bradshaw had won by only ten votes in 2013 over Patrick Tannis, who since switched allegiance to the Bees.
However, he became a victim of the near 30 per cent swing against the DLP, suffering a massive loss by 2,704 votes. He attracted just 1,099 votes, or 21.84 per cent, to 3,803 by Bradshaw, who garnered 75.56 per cent of the votes cast. The smaller parties, Solution Barbados and United Progressive Party (UPP) polled 131 votes between them.
Today, Grant argued that the party needed to return to its core principles of people-centred politics if it wished to become relevant again.
“There has to be a return to the social democratic stance on which Barrow built the Democratic Labour Party,” he told journalists at a news conference at the Marcus Garvey Resource Centre in The Pine, St Michael.
“We have to find a way to get back there and the party has to find a way to get back to that point on how it engages with people going forward into the future. This is the key thing that must engage the party going forward, it can’t be anything but people-centred,” Grant stressed.
In a stinging commentary of the DLP’s performance in the election, in which it polled just 33, 985 votes, or 22 per cent of the 153,745 ballots cast, Grant suggested that the Dees had been relegated to virtually third party status.
“This defeat almost puts the Democratic Labour Party on the same platform as the UPP, BIM [Barbados Integrity Movement] and some of the other parties. The thing that sets the Democratic Labour Party apart from the others is its history,” he said.
It was only yesterday that the man in charge of the DLP’s disastrous election campaign, Robert Bobby Morris, said the party would do some introspection, while pointing out that defeated Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had already served notice of his intention to quit.
Morris said party officials would therefore put their heads together and bring about a transition of leadership to take the DLP into the next poll.
The party took the initial step toward preparing for the future when the various organs met yesterday to review the outcome of last Thursday’s general election.
“Agencies of the party were discussing and getting views on the experiences of what happened in the election,” General Secretary George Pilgrim told Barbados TODAY.
He added that the executive council would meet tomorrow to set a date for a post mortem which would involve DLP members who sat in the last Parliament.